E-Verify may soon become a mandatory check for employers across the United States. On January 24, 2017 Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, which is a bill that proposes making the mainly voluntary check system mandatory.
What is E-Verify?
E-Verify is an internet-based system which compares U.S. government records with information reported by an employee on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. Employees whose Form I-9 matches the E-Verify search are then considered eligible for employment in the United States. If a mismatch is found during the verification process, the employer is alerted with a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC). The employee will then have to decide if he/she is going to contest the TNC or not. If the employee chooses not to contest, the employer can immediately terminate him/her. If the employee contests the decision, he/she will be allowed to continue employment while they work to resolve the issue but they must contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within eight federal government work days.
It is important to note that employers may not terminate or suspend employment, postpone training or start dates or freeze pay until the contested case is decided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
E-Verify began as a pilot program in five states in 1996. Under the program which, is operated by the DHS in partnership with the SSA, employers in the designated five states used the Internet-based system to check the employment eligibility status of employees. In 2003 the program was expanded to include employers in all states based on legislation introduced by Senator Grassley. In 2007 new requirements were put in place making it mandatory that E-Verify be used for all federal contractors and vendors.
With the exception of the federal contractor and vendor stipulation, E-Verify currently remains a mainly volunteer-based system which is used by more than 600,000 employers nationwide and at more than 1.9 million hiring sites. The current E-Verify program is scheduled to expire on April 28, 2017.
What are the Proposed Changes?
- Permanently reauthorizes the E-Verify program that was created in 1996.
- Makes the program mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment, requires federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, and directs “critical employers,” as identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.
- Increases penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers.
- Reduces the liability that employers face if they participate in E-Verify when it involves the wrongful termination of an individual.
- Allows employers to use E-Verify before a person is hired if consent is provided by the employee.
- Requires employers to check the status of all current employees within 3 years.
- Requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify.
- Helps ensure that the Social Security Administration catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers by requiring them to develop algorithms to detect anomalies.
- Establishes a demonstration project in a rural area or area without internet capabilities to assist small businesses in complying with the participation requirement.
- Amends the criminal code to make clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own without lawful authority and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendant’s “knowledge” of the victim.
- Requires employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status if the employment authorization is due to expire.
This isn’t the first time The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act has been proposed by Senator Grassley, but there is a greater probability of getting it passed with the newly elected Republican President and a Republican majority in Congress. If passed, the bill will make E-Verify a permanent program.
“Businesses across the country have opted to use the E-Verify system to help comply with our immigration laws. E-Verify is a proven tool for employers, including myself, that helps reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguards job opportunities for Americans and other legal workers. Expanding the system to every workplace will improve accountability for all businesses and take an important step toward putting American workers first,” said Senator Grassley.
To learn more about the E-Verify program and how it affects you as either an employer or an employee, visit www.uscis.gov/e-verify.
Sentinel Background Checks wants to ensure your business is compliant with employment eligibility laws and background checks. Our professionals have more than 30 years combined experience and are standing by to help you navigate through your compliance issues. Call (888) 725-2535 or visit us at sbchecks.com.